iPad with QuNexus and AudioBus Demo

For the last few weeks I have be in the midst of remodeling my mixing studio leaving me with no place work on electronic music. Soon I’ll have my studio back, but whilst I’m waiting for the flooring to arrive I decided to take the opportunity to explore using the iPad exclusively (with various apps and the QuNexus) to produce and perform tracks.

I’ve been looking at a long list of apps, but for this video I chose to narrow things down to AudioBus, Samplr, Sunrizer, and Propellerheads Figure (not shown in the video). The process started in Figure where I created a drum pattern, pizzicato bass line, and synth melody. I then used Sonoma AudioCopy/Paste to get the parts into Samplr on separate tracks. Next I recorded an arpeggio from Sunrizer into Samplr that I used in two of the slots, but setup quite differently from each other. Finally I recorded a bit of vocal straight in via the internal mic to use as a effect. During the performance I used the touchscreen to manipulate the layers and adjust the processing in Samplr, then I used the QuNexus connected via the iPad Camera Kit to play a mono synth patch in Sunrizer.

For me this experiment serves as a proof of concept. The audio quality coming out of the iPad is not great, but it’s not bad either and can be improved by adding an audio interface. Any latency was hardly noticeable with the 4th generation iPad that I’m using. In another experiment I even had two controllers connected to the Camera Kit with a USB hub. Both running on bus power. Unfortunately this did cause the “connected USB device uses too much power” error to come up occasionally, but a powered USB hub will solve that.

So what’s the prognosis? In my view the iPad is approaching the professionalism of some laptop setups. If you need an ultraportable system there’s going to be some subset of apps and hardware out there that will serve most purposes. More interesting than that is the range of applications and the innovation that comes along many of them as a result of the multitouch interface. Samplr, for example, is really a pleasure to use and features seven different play modes that allow you to interact with the audio in unique and addicting ways. Beyond being just a scratch pad setups like these are a way to change one’s perspective and try a new approach to music making.

Is anyone else discovering intriguing new ways to produce using mobile devices? Whether it’s the iPad, OP-1, Android Tablet, or harmonica I would love to hear about what you’re learning and hear what you’re producing with these sorts of techniques.

6 thoughts on “iPad with QuNexus and AudioBus Demo

  1. Hey John, nice work. I started playing around with a few different apps with varied success on my ipod touch and iphone. Not so much fun for the eyes and fingers but came up with some nice bits. Also been playing around with them as additional controllers using LiveControl and TouchOSC over an ad hoc network. It’s always just a little too much time remembering how everything needs to be set up and then not quite responsive enough. But below is a link to a track that I made in Sunvox on my phone (basically it’s a tracker and pretty amazing if a bit time consuming). I then transferred the audio out and remixed it on the laptop but pretty much all the sounds came from the phone.
    Definitely pretty amazing what can be done now between Audiobus and Jack.

  2. Hey Genji. It’s good to hear from you! Thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried SunVox yet, but after hearing the textural complexity in your track I might have to give it a go. Is there some granular synthesis functionality in SunVox that you’re using? The bow mode in Samplr can create some nice granular effects, but it’s difficult to control. The whole mobile music ecosystem is so expansive. Just scratching the surface is enough open up a ton of new music making possibilities.

  3. I really want to check out Samplr. I was hoping MegaCurtis would do more of what it looks like Samplr is. I need to get an iPad! I’ve been holding off but it seems like my musician friends are all making such good use of them these days, whether for synth sounds at gigs or charts/lyrics, not to mention as a controller etc…
    SunVox is mostly pretty basic but I kind of stumbled on some good sounds after some tweaking. You can record samples and it comes with a pretty good selection. Not that many effects, no real granular stuff but everything is automate-able if you can wade through the tedium of entering numbers line by line (not really my thing, or strength) but I like trying new platforms that make me rethink my process and what I’m trying to achieve. I’m trying to find a balance between that and actually finishing things! Always enjoy checking out Audio Cookbook and seeing what you’re up to.

  4. I held out on getting an iPad for a long time. I was hoping that Android would start to have more competitive music apps. I love the open nature of Android, but the music apps just don’t compare. It’s definitely satisfying to experiment with some of the apps out there on iOS. That said, when I sit down to make music seriously I still gravitate to my dedicated hardware. Perhaps that’ll change once I’ve integrated the iPad a little more fluidly into my setup. In any case it’s amazing while traveling, or when I need a break from the studio walls.

  5. Nice demo! I have been looking for a replacement/alternative to the OP-1. I loved the OP-1’s intuitive, fun interface and size which made it a great companion/controller for the Ipad. But integrating it was a bit of a pain due to the limitations of the OP-1’s memory, file system and lack of an IOS editor. It is a great ultraportable midi controller for the many Ipad music apps, but at $800US way too expensive for that primary use. I think I have found a viable alternative in the Quenexus. Thanks for helping to confirm this. Cheers

  6. Hi Derbin. Thanks for the comment. I think you will thoroughly enjoy the QuNexus as an iPad controller. Another advantage over the OP-1 is that it is velocity sensitive with aftertouch AND tilt, allowing for a great deal of expressive control. I also had an OP-1 (loved it in a lot of ways) but got rid of it in favor of other gear (DSI Tempest, etc.). I might consider getting one again when the time is right.

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